Let’s take a look at each of these types of decision-makers and give you some idea of how to best win them over:
These are the guys with the pain. If the manager of an order-processing department is being asked to deal with increasing volumes without increasing staff, he or she is the one who is going to start looking for a document imaging system. If a hiring department is being asked to reduce the amount of time it takes to onboard employees, the HR manager is going to be looking for imaging.
Because their day-to-day lives are likely going to be affected the most by an imaging implementation, line-of-business managers, even if not the most powerful people in an organization, can be your biggest champions. They can often be found at trade shows or online talking to their peers in forums. If you have credibility with their peers, you will have better access to them. You also have to know how to be able to speak their language. Remember: You are not selling these guys a document imaging solution as much as you are a process improvement around their invoices or a better system for managing contracts.
Of course, for any technical implementation like document imaging, you always need IT’s approval. Because document imaging is typically not a core IT functionality (like storage, for example), IT will likely be your secondary point of contact, but that doesn’t mean that IT isn’t important. IT is going to be concerned with all the integration and security issues.
The best advice we can give when dealing with IT is to remain open and flexible. In other words, don’t plan to force-fit your products into IT’s environment. IT is going to give you a list of requirements, and you are going to have to do the best you can to address them. It’s typically good to havea variety of products in your bag to be able to best address both application and IT requirements.
Cloud implementations are often advertised as a means for getting around IT, but they typically still need IT’s approval—if not as much involvement as an on-premises system would. And remember: Some IT departments like to be involved (they consider it job security), so offering both cloud and on-premises versions of software is typically the best way to go.
Depending on the size of a company, C-level executives might very well be involved in an imaging initiative as well. If the implementation is designed to address regulatory compliance issues, like in securities and bond trading, the CEO may be held responsible if something goes wrong. CFOs can become involved with accounts payable and receivables implementations especially. And CIOs basically serve as the heads of IT, so, especially if it’s a multi-department rollout, they can become involved.
It’s likely that the C-level executives will not come to the table first, but that doesn’t mean their opinions don’t carry weight. Make sure you can address any concerns they have in language they can understand. For example, assure the CEO that your implementation will be foolproof and secure by walking him or her through some of the details in those areas, as well as showing how imaging has benefited his or her peers. To the CFO, talk numbers.
Accessing decision-makers when selling document imaging solutions often comes down to being able to wear many hats. Chances are that more than one force is going to shape the buying decision, and you need to be able to line them all up in your favor. In order to do that, you need to know what is vital to each audience and be able to tailor your message to address what they want to hear.